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Bridges & Structures

Subject: ACTION: Evaluation of Fendering Systems Date: March 9, 1999
From: Acting Associate Administrator for Program Development Reply to Attn. of: HNG-30
To: Resource Center Directors,
Division Administrators

The 560-foot-long Liberian tankship Julie N, carrying a cargo of heating oil, collided with the south bascule pier of the Portland-South Portland (Million Dollar) Bridge in Portland, Maine, on September 27, 1996. The collision resulted in a 33-foot-long hole in the vessel's hull beneath the waterline. About 4,000 barrels of oil spilled into the harbor. The vessel sustained about $660,000 in damage, and the cost for cleanup of the oil was approximately $43 million. Repairs to the Million Dollar Bridge were about $232,000. After investigating the accident, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued Special Investigation Report (SIR) 98/02 which was adopted on May 5, 1998. A summary of SIR/98/02 is attached.

The Federal Highway Administration has been requested by the NTSB recommendation (M-98-83) to inform, in cooperation with the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), State highway departments of the circumstances of this accident and recommend that the States evaluate the adequacy of fendering systems at bridge piers where the systems were not designed for the type and size of vessel currently using the waterway and may not be adequate to protect the bridge and take corrective action as necessary.

Therefore, we request that State DOTs evaluate the adequacy of fendering systems at bridges which have a USCG permit for navigational clearances. This evaluation should be conducted as a part of the next scheduled national bridge inspection. The evaluation should determine if the bridge's fender system provides adequate protection for the bridge or for vessels navigating through its draw. If the fendering is found to be inadequate, an improved fendering system should be considered. The attached summary of SIR/98/02 contains an example of an adequate fendering system in the section titled: "Fender System for the New Bridge."

/s/ Original Signed by
Henry H. Rentz

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